Joshua Newborn is winding up his final year of law school as the recipient of a 2010 Distinguished Writing Award from the Burton Foundation, adding an additional achievement to his successes as a Mason Law student.
"I am thrilled to receive a Burton Award for my student comment, which I think is also a reflection of the quality of the George Mason Law Review. Our Board of Editors worked tremendously hard this past year, and I am glad to see our accomplishments recognized," Newborn commented.
A graduate of St. Vincent College, Newborn served as senior research editor of the George Mason Law Review and was an active member of the Moot Court Board. Along with his teammates, Newborn won the Region IV Qualifying Rounds of the National Moot Court Competition sponsored by the City Bar of New York and the American College of Trial Lawyers earlier in the academic year. At the National Moot Court Competition itself in New York City, Newborn and teammates were National Octofinalists and had the 4th best brief. In addition, Newborn served as a writing fellow for first-year law students for the past two semesters, teaching a section of LRWA for about a dozen students each semester.
Securing a Burton Award is no small task. Founded in 1999, the Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress and its Law Library. Nominations for the award are made by law school deans and managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms. Fifteen Burton Award law school winners are selected annually from law schools across the nation to receive this award, which honors partners in law firms and law students who set a high standard for clarity and effectiveness in legal writing. Newborn's receipt of the 2010 award marks the fourth consecutive year that a Burton Award has been won by a Mason Law student.
Like all Mason Law students, Newborn was required to take part in an intensive three-year legal writing program designed to prepare students for the practical demands in the practice of law. In the first year, students are introduced to both enacted law and common law, learn a variety of research methodologies using both print and electronic database resources, and learn the art of analyzing legal concepts and the practical skills of presenting this research and analysis in a coherent, organized, and logical written product. Students begin writing objective legal memoranda in the first semester and then progress to the art of persuasive writing through a trial level problem, where students are required to write both pre-trial pleadings and trial memoranda. At the end of the second semester, students engage in oral argument before local practitioners and judges. In the third semester, students continue developing and refining their research, analytical, and writing skills by working through an appellate problem at the federal appellate level. Students research and prepare two complete appellate briefs according to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure—one for the Appellant and one for the Appellee—and then engage in oral argument before legal practitioners. In the fourth semester, students are divided into law firms and counsel the same client through a variety of simulated circumstances requiring different types of legal drafting from simple contracts governing the behavior of the client and others to drafting legislation and preparing a will. Students also engage in a settlement negotiation with their colleagues and finalize the terms of the settlement reached into a settlement agreement for their client.
The legal writing program at George Mason also requires at least two additional writing courses beyond the first two years of study.
As a Burton Award winner, Newborn has been invited to attend the organization's 11th annual black-tie presentation of the Burton Awards at a reception and dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 14. Among the guest speakers and honored guests for the event will be U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and authors Jeffrey Toobin and Bryan Garner.
Pictured at top is the exterior of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where the Burton Awards are presented in the Great Hall.